tv Ali Velshi on Target Al Jazeera January 9, 2016 1:00am-1:31am EST
>> sex, violence and disease. it's the seedy underbelly of the united nations effort in haiti. nearly six years after an earthquake rocked the country, i'm ali velshi, welcome to a special edition of "on target," haiti on shaky ground. the united nations can be a blessing and occurs but for latte, the western hemisphere's poorest country it's been both. six years ago haiti was devastated by a massive earthquake. its worst natural disaster in more than two centuries. millions of
haitians, looked to the united nations for help. the u.n. set up temporary housing for thousands of residents. it built schools, hospitals and sanitation systems. and the u.n. currently maintains a $380 million annual budget to pay for its peace keeping force in haiti. that pays for more than the 6,000 u.n. soldiers tasked with upholding public security. but the u.n. effort may have also made some things worse. many blame u.n. peace keepers with a cholera epidemic that has left thousands dead. dogged by allegations of sexual abuse and coalitio exploitation of haitian women. we hold u.n. to account. david ariosto traveled to haiti and has this special report.
>> reporter: in the rural places, far outside the haitian capital, poverty, even in the western hemisphere's poorest country can take on new meaning. those like josminna na na yousef, under those circumstances josmina said she met a soldier near the community of port salud. at just 17 years old, she became pregnant, the father she says was that u.n. soldier . but she says the soldier left haiti soon after her pregnancy and returned to his home country of uruguay. four years later, josmina is
raising her son anderson on her own and is petitioning the u.n. for help and with the soldier gone and her armed with only a birth certificate her options are limited. >> the father is not listed on this birth certificate for anderson her young son. that's one of the problems with getting child support. she went to the u.n. to get dna testing done but it's been two years and she still handy had word. >> the issue goes much deeper. over the summer the united nations released a scathing report about its soldiers, detailing their widespread sexual exploitation of haitian women, treationa transactional sex with
u.n. soldiers. we went in search of these women and found josmina along with four other women all having beabd allegedl babies allegedly fathered by u.n. soldiers. they had dna testing done in an effort to get some kind of child support. after years without word many have given up hope. >> reporter: nearly all of these women acknowledge receiving either money or some other form of help during their
relations with soldiers although they also say the relationships were mutual. u.n. soldiers are prohibited from such relationships but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. and in some cases with miles an hour like josmina who was just seven years old at the time. in fact, roughly one-third of the abuse detailed in the u.n. report involved minors. >> any case of sexual exploitation and abuse is one case too many. >> reporter: the u.n. mission in haiti says it is aware of these cases and has taken steps to address the situation. suspending soldiers and offering outreach to victims. but their own report says assistance to these women remains, quote, severely deficient. >> we do not, we prohibit fraternizing between the military component and the civilians in the country.
>> you prohibit it but it certainly happens and it hatches quite a bit. >> yes. and i -- >> we were in country only a couple of days and we found a minor who had a sexual relationship with a u.n. workers and she's been trying trying to get answers the past two years with dna testing and she's getting the run around with u.n. workers here. >> i hope that person would one have submi submitted a plate toe u.n. staff. >> she has. >> to the team which has been conducting outreach sessions informing people of what the procedure is, and what the procedure should be in the event of an accusation. >> i guess my point is, we've only been here a couple of days and we've already located someone. is there an expectation or perhaps an understanding that this may be a far more widespread problem than your office has recognized so far? >> i think the question of
sexual abuse and coalitio explos a situation where one has seen a high degree of underreporting. >> this is not the first time the questions of sexual abuse have surfaced in haiti. in 2007, the united nations expelled 114 of its soldiers after widespread allegation of sexual exploitation of women and girls, some at the age of 14 forced allegedly into brothels. but in 2004 abomb dropped. u.n. soldiers apparently filming the rape of a 13-year-old haitian boy. the u.n. responded courts martialing the soldiers, sentenced to prison. but according to the u.n. watchdog, it's not clear the victim or his family were ever compensated. it was something that sparked
widespread criticism of the u.n.'s continuing presence in haiti. >> what's their purpose being here, bringing stability? >> more than 6,000 u.n. peace keepers are currently deployed to haiti to provide security to a country that has often been racked by violence. and yet, in light of recent scandals such as this latest report, there is a growing course of voices -- chorus of voices that says that organization may have overstayed its welcome here. >> they have no business here. truly, never had and it's been like that for close to 12 years. they should go, pack up and go. >> unfortunately, rape and sexual exploitation are not the end of the story. we continue from the ground in haiti, next. >> recent testing has indicated with almost certainty that this particular strain of cholera has
country's first outbreak in cholera in more than 100 years. with poor sanitation, the disease soon became an epidemic. it killed thousands. forensic investigators later pointed the finger at a surprising source. david ariosto visited a cholera clinic in haiti and has this report. >> reporter: in haiti, cholera is not only claiming lives. it may be getting worse. the deadly water-born disease has so far left some 9,000 people dead. sick thing more than 740,000. -- sick ening more than 740,000. and the cases emotional doubled in the first four months of 2015 compared to the same period a year earlier.
is for many in this country this tragedy has been particularly hard to confront, this was potentially brought to haiti by those tasked with protecting it. yet six years later, virtually no one has been held to account for the epidemic. >> cholera is a highly infectious disease that can kill in hours. never native to haiti before the earthquake. but tests have indicated that this strain of cholera has come from u.n. relief workers yet the u.n. has never received responsibility for this outbreak and they refuse to pay compensation to iliana, and others. >> united nations was the most likely source. >> what we're looking at is about as close as you can get in science to a slam dunk. >> the report points to a sewage dump that
housed u.n. nepalese hearing workers. intafnt walkerrer heade sebastian walker headed to that base. >> there are toilets right there and the liquid seems to be draining into this river just a few meters away that flows into the nearby town. >> the area is situated next oa tributary stream that needs haiti's longest and most important river. >> to bring people from a country where a cholera is endemic, i mean, that was criminal. and now they won't accept responsibility for it. this is totally insane. >> reporter: in a bid to get victims and their families compensation for the outbreak,
human rights lawyers filed a class action lawsuit in u.s. federal court. the suit accused the united nations of gross negligence and misconduct. but in 2015, the court ruled those victims cannot sue the united nations, because the u.n. has legal immunity only it can waive. to find out more, i sat down with the u.n. head of the mission in haiti. >> is there no reason why the u.n. hasn't prided some sort o provided some sort of compensation for these people when it's clear where it came from? >> we work closely with the ministry in support of the ministry's efforts to eliminate the transmission of cholera in haiti. >> the u.n. brought cholera to
haiti, the u.n. should firm cholera in haiti? is that what you're saying? >> to eliminate the transmission of cholera we have been doing this since the outbreak of the ep domic in 2010. we have seen dramatic reduction. >> what does that actually mean? because the question is is there a reason why the united nations hasn't accepted responsibility for this? >> the united nations has a number of agencies, as i mentioned, that are working in support of the socioeconomic development of haiti. >> so after more than half odecade and thousands dead, the united nations stance on whether it is accountable for the cholera epidemic in haiti remains unchanged. that means u.n. compensation for those like iliana and her family just isn't coming. >> crippled by an earthquake, ravaged by disease and
indignity, haiti's problem isn't ending there. coming up. trouble in the streets. >> rocks are coming in. you have a tank with water cannon that's blowing back protesters. >> "inside story" takes you beyond the headlines, beyond the quick cuts, beyond the soundbites. we're giving you a deeper dive into the stories that are making our world what it is.
an election runoff has been repeatedly repeatedly postponed. demonstrations are taking place in the port-au-prince, and security is the duty of the united nations and police, at times, the u.n. force has been accused of overreach. previously using deadly force during demonstrations. as part of our special coverage on haiti david ariosto headed into a recent protest march in port-au-prince to bring you this first person report. >> reporter: in the capital city of the western hemisphere's poorest country this is just another day. tear gas often mixes with protests in port-au-prince as security forces struggle to maintain order. so in many ways this is really emblematic of haiti, security
police forces crowmpin crouching behind this wall, water cannon, all this comes on the heels of civil government in haiti. back in october amid widespread allegations of voter fraud during first round of presidential and legislative elections, since then demonstrations have become a weekly sometimes daily occurrence so last week our team headed to one cinch march in port-au-prince. basically brought their groups into the streets to express their dissatisfaction over the runoff results. you can see this group coming to the street holding signs and saying, the president's hand picked candidate is someone who doesn't represent this country. the elections were scheduled for december 27th. but were postponed amid mounting pressure from street protests over alleged
corruption. president michel martelli, not enough to placate the heangt hasn't street. >> most clearly evidenced by the fact that over 70% of voters simply stayed home and didn't vote in the presidential elections right? you have a lot of anger and perception that this process is not fair and haitian people are not able to choose their leader. >> international observers led by the organization of american states which monitors elections across latin america largely certified the first round results but a growing course of voices including former secretary of state patrick elly says the process is far from fair, adding the international community is at least partly to blame. >> the haitian economic elite is not only subservient to foreign interest, it is also blind.
they think that because they're leaving the penthouse, having neglected the foundation of the building, that it won't crumble. >> reporter: often coined the republic of ngos, haiti hospitals some 10,000 nongovernment organizations, which provide everything from water sanitation to housing. but foreign efforts particularly security efforts have a history of heavy-hand he tactics that at times prompt backlash. in december 2014, u.n. peace keepers clashed with protestors as they marched towards the presidential palace demanding new leadership. demonstrators burned tires and threw rocks but the u.n. response seen here drew widespread condemnation after its soldiers opened fire on the crowd. the u.n. is very strict in sanctioning all forms of misconduct, the u.n. mission said in a statement after the incident, pledging to hold its
soldier accountable after, quote, inappropriate use of their weapons. but accountability is something many residents say is missing. but from foreign powers and their own leaders as haiti enters its last round of presidential elections which has only added to frustrations and a sense of even more disenfranchisement here in the nation. david ariosto, al jazeera, port-au-prince, haiti. as haiti's political crisis continues to unfold, michel marteli, for many there are reasons enough to be frustrated, two out of three haitians live on less than $2 a day and a rich minority of haitians possess nearly 70% of the country's total income. i scud president
martelli why some 60,000 haitians are still refugees living in tent cities six years after the quake? >> people who are living in tents are not the only problem we had in haiti. talking about people living in the tents, wee had almost 1.5 million people living in the tents. today the number is less than what you are talking about, it is about 40,000. but to us it's still too much but taking into account the number of people that we have displaced from the tent, and put under i won't even say decent homes but homes that are secured, homes that are so much better than tents, i think it's a great effort. and not just that. today you can drive around port-au-prince, not even seeing in some area, not even remembering that there was an earthquake. >> when you first campaigned, mr. president, you spoke about bringing back a real sense of sovereignty, to haiti, bringing back the national military. today the united nations still
takes care of much of the security in the country. is that vision of yours for haiti run by its own military and civilian government come to pass? >> as a matter of fact, we have made tremendous advancement in that sense. keep in mind that for us to be men today, we were some day in the past we were babies. we grew up or became men. same thing for a government, same thing for a country, to be developed. >> mr. president, your country has relied heavily on foreign aid groups. how have the foreign aid organizations affected haiti? from how aid is delivered to the conduct much u.n. peace keepers, the cholera outbreak, what's the mood in haiti about these foreign aid organizations? >> i must tell you, ali, that aid has been probably a bigger disaster than the earthquake itself for not being organized.
of course, today most of the ngos, most of them are either out of haiti or aligned with our views. today we are a government that are sitting down with our partners to define our priorities. the model that we have in the north side of haiti, talking about the industrial park that was built by the americans, is the type of aid that we need. we need to create jobs. we need to boost the economy. the type of aid we get from venezuela is what we need, where we get funds that enable us to create our own projects and identify our priorities and actually do it. but in the past, ngos came down here and did it the way they wanted and sometimes you went to a neighborhood where you saw two hospitals side by side,
and then you could run two more states, departments in our country and not even find one hospital. so today, we identify the priorities, the location for what we need, and we do it, of course, still, with the partners. >> mr. president, one of the things when we speak to the red cross and we speak to the u.n. and other organizations, many of them still tell us that haiti is just too corrupt a place to trust the government. as a result, many work through a series of nongovernmental organizations and sometimes that's not the most efficient way of getting things done. lots of duplicate projects, not a lot of overall coordination. how do you see that getting repaired? >> i must tell you that corruption is something that we all need to get rid of. it's not just in haiti but of course, in a country destroyed by misery, it's true, that there's much more corruption here in haiti. as a matter of fact, it had
become part of our mentality. but i must also admit that this government is the one that has worked the most at battling corruption. >> but you've got critics who have accused you of having serious ties to corruption. what's your response to those who say you've been part of the problem? >> well, it's easy. the same way they said they were fraud and they cannot prove it, i believe they have the right to say that i'm corrupted or i have ties with people who are corrupted. first of all how do you know somebody is corrupted? he has to be caught. when he's caught then you can say he was corrupt. people can say whatever they want about people. myself i've been focused on what i have to do. >> that's it for our special coverage of haiti on shaky ground. the news continues on al jazeera america.
>> we're here to fully get into the nuances of everything that's going on, not just in this country, but around the world. getting the news from the people who are affected. >> people need to demand reform... >> ali velshi on target. a few days after he laid out a new set of policies on guns, the president headed to northern virginia to talk to americans about his proposals and about his legal approach to keeping gups out of the hands of the wrong people. no drama obama talked about the annual firearms death toll. the push back he got remind him how hard it is at this moment to propose anything that changes